Niamh's Euro battle 'Fast' approaching
These are exciting times for Ballyboughal native Niamh 'Fast Hands' Fay as she counts down the days to the start of the European Junior Boxing Championships in Russia next week.
The 16-year-old Irish champion lost out in the first round to the eventual beaten finalist Vilma Triebelova of Finland in last year's Europeans, but her father and coach Garry Fay believes Niamh will be all the stronger for that experience.
The Irish team meet up at 5am next Sunday in Dublin Airport for the flight to Anapa via London, and Monday is a rest and recuperation day, before the weigh-ins and first fights next Tuesday, and that is a kinder schedule than Niamh had to deal with 12 months ago in Bulgaria.
'Last year we arrived at 9pm one evening, she was on the scales at 6.30 the next morning and then in the ring at 3 the same afternoon,' he pointed out.
'I probably shouldn't have had her in the 57kg division. She was 53.5 and had to eat to make the weight, but girls develop differently to boys and she's come down two divisions to fight at 52kg this time.
'I think she was the only girl in the team who hadn't been to the Europeans before and she was nervous, so hopefully the experience of last year will stand to her big time.
'She is in great form, she's feeling good and she'll be quite big for her weight this time, so everything is right and we'll see how it goes.'
Niamh, who these days fights out of Swords Boxing Club, has been training twice a day ahead of the championships, a serious commitment, and there'll be some serious catching-up to do in terms of her studies at Lusk Community School after she returns home from Russia on the 18th.
'They are having a [pre-Europeans] training camp down in Offaly, which means missing three weeks of school altogether, but I'll be driving Niamh up and down so she can go to school,' Garry explained.
'She passed her Junior Cert this year in between all the training, and the teachers are very understanding, but she'll be doing a catch-up week during the October mid-term break.'
Meanwhile, at the Monkstown Celtic Box Cup last week, Swords had a champion in Michael Avetisian who picked up the 64kg elite title with victory over Shane Flavin (Paulstown).
Avetisian boxed long at the start and used backhand shots and jabs to the body, prompting Flavin to change from long to short distance and push the Swords man back on the ropes. Avetisian tried to tie up his opponent, but the referee felt he was holding and issued a public warning and point reduction.
Undeterred, Avetisian picked up the pace in round two and landed big shots to the body. Again, Flavin tried to pin him to the ropes, but the Swords boxer used his fast feet to stay clear of trouble and in round three he landed some fine combinations and ultimately was crowned as the champion.
Cameron Bennett, however, was on the wrong end of a 3-2 split decision in his Senior 69kg contest with Newtownabbey's Daryl Clarke.
After losing the first round, Bennett fought back in the second, landing hooks and backhands, but the last round saw both fighters work on the inside and Clarke got the verdict by the narrowest of margins.